You don’t need a critic or video store geek to tell you to watch ‘The Shining’ this time of year.
It’s practically required viewing for horror buffs. The same holds true for ‘Halloween,’ The Exorcist’ and ‘Psycho.’ If you haven’t seen those chiller classics, then drop everything and add them to your Netflix queue (assuming you still have one).
This is a different kind of list, one drawing attention to sleeper horror films which still deliver the goods. They may not have film critics lining up to sing their praises, but here’s betting they raise a few goosebumps just in time for Halloween.
- ‘Rogue‘ (2007) – A killer crocodile movie? Yes, but stick with us. Director Greg Mclean uses the Aussie wilderness to set up this crackling thriller about a tourist boat which runs into one of the meanest crocs you’ll ever see. Michael Vartan and Radha Mitchell lead an intriguing cast in a film which barely got any theatrical love. Horror fans with an appetite for depravity should consider Mclean’s film debut, ‘Wolf Creek.’ ‘There is a line and this movie crosses it. I don’t know where the line is, but it’s way north of ‘Wolf Creek,’ says Roger Ebert of ‘Creek’s’ unexpurgated content. You’ve been warned.
- ‘Splinter‘ (2008) – Two couples, one very original killing machine. This indie sleeper casts Shea Whigham as a lowlife whose criminal plans are interrupted by a creature which, well, it’s hard to even describe the beast at the heart of this smart, satisfying thriller. If possible, check out the DVD extras to see how the man inside the monster suit performed all those intricate moves.
- ‘Eden Lake‘ (2008) – A pair of lovebirds decide to skip the bed-and-breakfast scene and camp for a romantic weekend. Big mistake. The couple runs into a group of teenage hooligans who proceed to physically and mentally torture them. It’s warped, shocking and extremely well crafted.
- ‘The House of the Devil‘ (2009) – Don’t like the quiet pace of older horror movies? Then, you’re better off skipping this sneaky throwback to a more patient era of filmmaking. A broke college student (Jocelin Donahue) ignores every instinct in her body when she agrees to house sit for a creepy couple. It’s a cautionary tale for the economically challenged, one awash in blood and regret.
- ‘Quarantine‘ (2008) – Horror purists may scoff at this remake of the Spanish thriller ‘[Rec].’ Since when do American remakes out-class their source material? How ’bout here? It’s yet another found footage thriller about a reporter (Jennifer Carpenter) investigating an apartment complex under siege. It’s got a chilling zombie vibe and a tension that doesn’t let up until the final, harrowing seconds.
- The ‘Wrong Turn’ franchise (2003 to 2011) – There’s nothing pretty about this unsung horror series. The first installment, starring Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Sisto, snatched the inbred cannibal baton from ‘The Hills Have Eyes.’ The 2007 sequel is good, nasty fun, while the third installment (2009’s ‘Left for Dead’) is only appreciated after a vigorous amount of channel surfing comes up empty. The newest ‘Turn,’ the just-released ‘Bloody Beginnings,’ is a creative wrong turn in every possible way, but it packs just enough genre necessities to stop you from hitting the pause button.